Thursday, October 8, 2015
This is the first Friday of our Fall Fundraising Drive. You know the drill... if you love great "classical" music, and you want to be sure it is available in local programming on WSCL (shows like Just Opened), now is the time to support it!
National Brass Ensemble
OBERLIN MUSIC # 16677
ISBN# 7 51778 16677 0
Naxos label info. on the National Brass Ensemble
Traditional brass works by one of the all-time great brass composers, played by an award winning group of musicians. 'nuff said!
Yo Yo Ma, cello
Kathryn Stott, piano
ISBN# 88875 10316 2 3
Gift Giver's Delight! This CD just hit stores and on-line download on Sept. 18th. Any release by Mr. Ma is a major release, and this time he is working with a long-time collaborator Ms. Stott. This is a collection of immensely appealing melody driven works, some of them initially intended for vocalist, all of them qualify as classical "pop hits."
Bartok & Mendelssohn Violin Concertos
Miquel Harth Bedoya, con.d
Norwegian Radio Orchestra
ISBN# 8 22252 23232 5
The Mendelssohn violin concerto is a favorite of many great music lovers, and is held here in interesting contrast with the Bartok. Hadelich continues his meteoric rise adding breadth and variety to his recording palette.
Jake Schepps Quintet
Website of Jake Schepps
ISBN# 7 00261 40871 2
Jake Schepps and his folk quintet recently performed at the Avalon theatre in Easton. This CD is part of a growing trend of what I call "concert folk." These are new works - "concert works" - for folk quintet. If the point being made is that these instruments are being played with technique and artistry, and true mastery, point taken without reservation. Unfortunately, these works are neither fish nor fowl, not really appealing to those who come to hear the group play folk music, and the "orchestration" of the band means that the sound is exceptionally foreign to a traditional concert goer. In their construction and "modern music" exploration, these works would be a challenge in any arena, and the works remain best suited to a jazz/folk crossover rather than folk/classical. It's an interesting premise being attempted here, to legitimize the folk instruments without changing their balance or sonority. In the classical era, composers like Fernando Sor worked to legitimize the guitar by writing pedagogy and intensely appealing melodic works - and it worked - I wish there were a little more of that in these compositions.
James Brawn, piano
ISBN# 6 81585 14682 8
This was the first of Brawn's "Beethoven Odyssey" and includes beloved sonatas like the Pastorale, and "To Therese" which was a personal favorite of Beethoven in an odd 2 movement form. Beethoven felt it was equal to, or better than his popular "Moonlight" sonata. We've actually been receiving these Brawn releases out of order from the label, so it's nice to get the first one, and recognize it as a wonderful "start" to the extensive and impressive series.
Adrian Chandler, violin & director
ISBN# 8 22252 23442 8
Official website for La Serenissima
Rave reviews from BBC3, Gramophone Magazine, The New York Times, Early Music Review, The Classical Reviewer... it was only a matter of time until Chandler and La Serenissima tackled - what is perhaps THE seminal work of Baroque Repertoire - Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. Fortunately for us, Chandler combines this well known and loved work with much less well known works for violin and bassoon, giving us a refreshing mix.
Friday, October 2, 2015
Favorites from many time periods today on Just Opened.
Piano works by
Debussy, Ravel & Kapustin
A commanding release of beloved familiar works by Debussy and Ravel, and one lesser known composer; Kapustin's Concert Etudes have been called "an encyclopedia of piano technique" and are in the "feuille d'album" form of salon pieces. Pirojenko has won a firework display of awards, and this assured, nuanced, masterful CD is exactly what one would expect and hope for.
Geoffrey Andrews, tenor
GRACO MUSIC # 24790
ISBN# 8 88295 24790 0
Gift Giver's Delight. A "natural" tenor with a powerful voice from Texas, who went to Nashville to try his luck and hit gold in the form of the production team of Hooper and Kevern, known for their classical crossover accousitc orchestra work. Having overcome an infant bilateral clubfoot deformity, and living with tourette syndrome, he has the kind of "back story" to make him the darling of the "reality tv" set. These logistics all fall away when we hear his powerful, clear, balanced voice.
Vadym Kholodenko, piano
Miquel Harth-Bedova, cond.
Norwegian Radio Orchestra
HARMONIA MUNDI #907629
ISBN# 0 93046 76292 6
My Delight of the Week. I'm personally so very happy to see and hear that Grieg is coming back into favor in concert halls and recordings after what has seemed like a long winter of absence. As one might expect from a Van Cliburn winner (2013), critics have been trowing bouquets, praising theses performances as "as tender as you might want... and... passionate but not overwrought." This welcome pairing of Grieg with Saint Saens' 2nd Concerto makes it a "no brainer" to add to your collection, especially if you do not have these works in your library. Grammpone's Jeremy Nicholas called this Grieg "a truly outstanding recording" and said the Saint Saens was "even better" and thrilling!
Aralee Dorough, flute
Scott Holshouser, piano
ISBN# 7 00261 39071 0
Accomplished orchestral flautist Dorough shines in these transcriptions of orchestral works. Most of these works all ready heavily featured the flute, so these reductions feel absolutely natural. The choice of material has been smart (like starting the CD with Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn"), so that we rarely feel the lack of the orchestra, merely the flute being brought into forward focus, which allows us to bask in Dorough's painterly approach to ... colours. She is joined by Judy Dines on a second flute part (with Hoshouser still holding down the orchestral reduction with a masterful blend of virtuosity and support) on a rousing closing work, the ever popular Stravinsky "Pulcinella Suite."
Zoe Black, violin
Joe Chindamo, piano
ALFI RECORDS# 15002
ISBN# 7 24131 54960 2
Chindamo made his name as a jazz pianist and has been recognized by great musicians of all genres, performing in concert halls with orchestras, rock bands and big names of all kinds of genres. Aside from performances on over 23 CDs of his own, and countless with other groups, he has achieved recognition as a composer of chamber works. To those credentials he offers this labor of love ... Bach's major keyboard work with counterpoint for violin. What we have is a calling card of technical proficiency and variety for both piano and violin. Zoe Black is completely up to the challenge of what - in this - amounts to an extensive and virtuosic violin "variation cycle". Critics being what they are, the reviews have been a bit mixed, some want nothing other than the original, others gripe that he didn't stray far enough in creating the violin part. These are quibbles that are easily drowned out by simply listening to the work. Within the past few months, some chamber versions of this same originating work have been released, so, as usual, Chindamo has his finger on the pulse of what is current and performing with verve and excellence.
Join us again next week (during our Fall Fundraiser) for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell
Friday, September 25, 2015
Romantic German Lied Transcriptions
Andrew Parker, oboe
Alan Huckleberry, piano
ISBN# 6 81585 15142 6
My Delight of the Week!
Classics Today (reviewer Jed Disler): "Not only does Parker command a pleasant, singing sonority, but he also gauges his vibrato with expressive discretion. In strophic songs where the text ordinarily informs one’s interpretive game plan, Parker compensates by adjusting his phrasing and articulation, as you immediately hear in Schubert’s Die Forelle. Alan Huckleberry is far more than a mere accompanist; he imbues the piano parts with pinpointed articulation and multi-dimensional character. His ripplingly clear treatment of Gretchen am Spinnrade’s gentle arpeggiated figurations are right up there with Edwin Fischer and Gerald Moore, and that’s the ultimate compliment" Reviewers often feel obliged to compare instrumental song cycles unfavorably to sung, citing the loss of lyrics and the vocal drama -- but for many listeners who do no speak the foreign language of the art songs in question, the release from words is its own joy. Parker was just signed to the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin, having graduated from Yale in '03. He has performed around the country in numberous chamber groups and as a soloist. Huckleberry has performance experience and an interesting addition: He and pianist Jason Sifford have recorded standard repertoire for beginner to intermediate piano students, available on youtube's UIPianoPed. channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed
Avalon String Quartet
CEDILLE 90000 156
ISBN#7 351-- -1562 5
Avalon Quartet Official Site
American Record Guide: "It would be hard to overpraise the polished, adroit, deeply musical and sheerly gorgeous playing of the Avalon String Quartet." The Avalon Quartet takes us on a tour of "modern" music from the well known quartet of Debussy, into Brittens inventive and accessible "Divertimenti" and March to a challenging new work by Stacy Garrop that has been compared to Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" in that it provides musical illustrations of the illustrations in a Medieval manuscript, the "Book of Hours." Much of this work is melodically challenging and is in a modern compositional style that can be off-putting for many listeners. Closing with Golijov's "Tenebrae" we keep the mediaeval theme but add a lush cello melody which brings us back to a musical voice and brings us around to the current trend in "contemporary classical" music to keep the intellectual curiosity but blend it with a more accessible musical language and the blessing of melody. This musical tour of modern repertoire is, of course, a technical and musical tour de force by this quartet.
James Brawn, piano
ISBN# 6 81585 15012 2
Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" have been featured on several solo piano CDs recently, so the work seems to be back in vogue. The work has been compared to Debussy's Preludes in the expanse of tonal color, and Brawn has been hailed both for his ability to have the thundering quality and the finesse of clarity of line to bring the full pallate. Reviews are unequivocal in their high praise.
“… If one has never listened to this gentleman’s expertise, then perhaps this James Brawn in Recital would be a great place to start” -- American Record Guide
Works for Violin by Composers from
Francisco Caban, violin
Kevin Class, piano
Cermelo de los Santos, violin
ISBN# 8 88295 11768 5
Caban's official website for info. & purchase
Caban is Professor of Music at the Conservatory of Puerto Rico. A frequent soloist in the United States, Spain, Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico, he also serves as a member of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. His intensive pedagogical work includes the creation and artistic direction of the Conservatory’s annual violin festival. As with his first CD, his focus is on composers mostly from Latin America, including one of his own works for solo violin, reminiscent of Paganini's etudes. As with much contemporary work, some of these are a bit challenging, but most of them are accessible, and highly entertaining.
Dichterliebe & Liederkreis
Stanley Wilson, tenor
Malcolm Halliday, piano
ISBN# 6 81585 15132 7
Wilson and Halliday have partnered together before, on a CD of British Songs that received raves from Fanfare Magazine, among others. Schumann's song cycles are touchstones and significant calling cards for tenor and pianist alike. Both artists have estimable independent careers, so when they join forces on major cycles like these, we have to assume they have special meaning and import for both. Halliday's playing has been called "not a pianist who agonizes how chords should be weighted.... unruffled and homogenous" (which may have something to do with his also being an accomplished organist), and Wilson has an impressive growing career on international stages of opera and as a featured soloist.
Join us again next week for more new releases, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell
Friday, September 18, 2015
Today we have works that recognize the celebration Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a new major release from Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax of beloved traditional violin sonatas, two more great pianists - from Brazil - play works by Russian composers. We top these off with the icing of choral music by Paulus and some new settings of klezmer music by an Argentinian composer.
Luiz de Moura Castro, piano
Slovenia Radio & TV orchestra
Ligia Amadio, cond.
ISBN#8 88295 25148 8
Conductor Ligia Amadio's website
My Delight of the Week! Listed amongst the top piano instructors in the US, Castro has been recognized for at least 50 years as an international virtusoso, and regularly sits on the jury of the top international piano competitions. He knows the process since he has been winning competitions since his teens. This is an opportunity to hear a mature recognized master-class teacher performing the RAC-PAG variations, one of the most revered works of the piano repertoire, which he has been playing since his childhood! (Note: the picture of this CD is not the same cover art as the one sent to us here at the station, and I have been unable to find both on online sources, so your best source is to contact Castro through his website for this CD.) Rachmaninov piano works remain among the best loved of piano/orchestra literature, and his variations on a theme of Paganini is a perennial favorite and frequently requested piece. (Castro learned the variations as a child for "piano exercises," first performing them in competition and then with orchestra at the age of nine. This is an artist who KNOWS the piece.) This is an exceptionally nuanced performance of a performer who has played the work for 50 years!
Daniel Galay, composer
Michele Gingras, clarinet
Ron Matson, piano
ISBN# 6 81585 1240 2 4
Argentinian born Galay immigrated to Israel in 1965 and received the "Prime Minister Composition Prize" in 2009. For several years he is the Chairman of Leyvik House, the Association of Yiddish writers and Journalists in Israel, where he introduced changes to attract new generations to Jewish Culture and Literature. It is said that his exceptional affinity with the language is integrally connected to his success as a composer of Yiddish works. Gingras is Distinguished professor of Clarinet at Miami University and has authored the advanced pedagogy book, "Clarinet Secrets: 52 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Clarinetist."
Choral Music of Stephen Paulus
Eric Holtan, Cond.
True Concord Voices & Orchestra
REFERENCE RECORDINGS 716
ISBN# 0 30911 17162 9
Just weeks before his death from a stroke in 2014, this recording was made under the supervision of Paulus; premier recordings (including one in remembrance of 9/11) introducing the international debut of True Concord Voices and Orchestra. The full and varied orchestration lend even more color than usual to these fine choral works performed by exceptional artists.
EMANUEL AX, piano
Faure & Strauss Violin Sonatas
DEUTCHE GRAMMOPHON #23611
ISBN# 0 28948 11774 1
Two above-the-title greats join forces in a new release of two of the great traditional works of concert repertoire. Perlman & Ax are touring internationally with these works, and will be performing in the region - on Sept. 28th at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
Jorge Federico Osorio, piano
ISBN# 7 35131 91532 8
Osorio has been in our playlists on WSCL for awhile. His technical facility and interpretational skill always please. This CD's major work is Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." We are now so used to the orchestral version of the work that we forget it was originally composed for solo piano, with the intention of creating in music the specific works of art the composer had in mind. It has been compared to Debussy's preludes in it's use of color, variety and subtlety. A prelude and fugue of Shostakovich give us some rigor, and two Prokofiev works, one challenging, one poetic, round out the program. This is the tour-de-force recital of an accomplished master.
Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell
Friday, September 4, 2015
Alan Feinberg's new CD exploring Fugues of the Baroque era contrasted with the new music of David Crumb. The music of Brahms compared with new music of Andrea Clearfield. And the musical history of Jews in India explored in Choral Music.
Alan Feinberg, piano
STEINWAY & SONS 30034
ISBN# 0 34062 30034 1
Steinway & Sons publicity of this CD
My Delight of the Week! After his last Steinway CD that focused on the Elizabethan works of John Bull, Feinberg moves up into the Baroque era with a focus on fugues. The great composers are represented here, but perhaps more importantly, the meditative and surprisingly melodic elements of fugues come into clear focus in this intelligent collection. Many people say they like "music to study to" to help them concentrate. Here's the ticket. Feinberg says, “Performing works of the Baroque period on a modern Steinway enables the use of an especially rich tool for contrapuntal expression. In the end, I think that the performer’s task is to strive to harness the same spiritual, personal, intellectual, and technical concerns that the composer has mustered in order to re-create or re-imagine these past works for the present.” Fugues can be dry stuff, and Feinberg brings out the drama, the elegance, and surprising tenderness.
Ruth Webber, cond.
San Diego Jewish Men's Choir
ISBN# 7 66897 74872 1
For information and purchase.
Gift Giver's Delight! A truly rare treat for the upcoming Jewish Holy Days, a new exploration of music from India, specifically from 3 communities of Jews (Malabars 562 BC, Roman in 70 AD (or CE), and Paradesi 1492) who made up the thriving (over 5,000) community in the fishing port town of Kerala, India. The resulting music of traditional jewish texts and music played on a variety of instruments, including traditional Indian instruments creates a fresh "new" world music soundscape that is both historically accurate and completely relevant in today's thirst for multi-culturalism with integrity. I can envision the musical program of this CD creating ripples in choral presentations and religious service music as well. ** This CD has allready topped 2 billboard charts (#3 World Albums, #7 Heatseaker Pacific), and is a "Global Music Award" winner.
Barbara Westphal, viola
Christian Ruvolo, piano
ISBN# 0 90404 94422 2
for more info & purchase
Westphal's luscious dark viola tones have been a staple on our station for years. Here she plays 2 well-loved sonatas by Brahms paired with a sparkling new work for viola & piano by Andrea Clearfield.
Click here for a review of both Westphal's CD & Crumb's Red Desert
Compostitions of David Crumb
ISBN# 0 90404 94502 1
His father was avant-guarde composer George Crumb, and David's work is said to be more accessible that that, but it remains pretty far from what our listeners ask for. David Crumb teaches music theory and composition. If you are seeking a challenge to your musical notions, this CD has varied instrumentation on the individual pieces which is smart, as it helps greatly to leaven this collection of new works.
Thank you for your support of WSCL-FM, and your continued interest in Just Opened, the program where we open up new releases and releases new to our library, to give you a small taste of what's new in the classical music release world.
Kara Dahl Russell
Friday, August 28, 2015
Wagner and World music today on Just Opened... with a bit of Poulenc thrown in for spice!
ISBN#6 81585 15372 7
Official website for Kontras Quartet
Works that are alternately challenging, whimsical, inventive, melodic and engaging fill the adventuresome program on this CD. A work called "Hunting: Gathering" inspired by native South African sound motifs; "Japanese Folk song Suite" has been a performance favorite of this group, and they have finally recorded it. Formed in 2009 Kontras Quartet consider themselves pioneers in genre-defying collaborations. The group has a stated appetite for the musically bizarre and unexpected, and they found satisfaction for this in Stravinsky's "3 pieces", and the program closes with a playful, accessible work by modern composer Dan Visconti that includes snippets of songs, rhythmic intricacy and special effects, "Ramshackle Songs."
David Deveau, piano
STEINWAY & SONS 30051
ISBN# 0 34062 30051 8
Deveau's faculty page on MIT website
My Delight of the Week! The works and life of Wagner form a touchstone for the works on this CD, from Liszt's piano transcription (arr. by Rubinstien) of Wagner's title work, 2 of Liszt's works inspired by his personal friendship and musical admiration of Wagner, and then contemporary works of Brahms, which bring more warmth into the program. These are some of Liszt's darkest works, his technical proficiency sometimes adding a chill to the darkness, so the Brahms capriccios and intemezzi - while still often introspective and melancholy - add a beautiful balance to the shadows. Deveau's career as a soloist and chamber musician have taken him around the world many times over. This CD presents a thoughtful program of a mature, accomplished artist who has been a "Steinway Artists" since 1999.
Complete Music for Winds & Piano
The Iowa Ensemble
ISBN# 6 81585 15402 1
for information & purchase
Detailed review of this CD in "The Classical Reviewer"
To me, the essential sound of Poulenc is a slightly tipsy take on soulful melody and skipping innocence that is just awakening to the complexity of adult life. Winds are the perfect vehicle for his particular and peculiar mental & musical worlds, and here we have works that run the gamut from early works of rule-breaking nonsense to later works of engaging complexity. Do take time to read the review in the link, it is comprehensive and glowing!
Wesendonck - Lieder
Sarah Rose Taylor, mezzo
Nigel Potts, organ
Grace Cloutier, harp
ISBN# 6 81585 15322 2
Taylor's website; Pott's website
Traditional works performed by 3 young performers in the international limelight. Nigel Potts has become renowned worldwide as “a consummate musician who knows how to communicate the essence of [the] music” (The American Organist), and whose “playing is assured and stylish” (Organists' Review, UK). He has built a reputation for his expressive, colorful and tasteful performances, always communicating and placing the music at the forefront with “…warm, sympathetic playing” (Choir & Organ, UK). British born mezzo-soprano Sarah Rose Taylor is rapidly becoming recognized for her warm and full tones "Germanic" voice. Now based in Manhattan, the works on this CD were the featured works of her Carnegie Hall debut in 2014. She has had wide ranging experience as a soloist in oratorios, in addition to many opera roles. Grace Cloutier rounds out the group of accomplished young musicians; an intenationally recognized harpist who has studied on both sides of the Atlantic, and whose 8 CDs demonstrate her particular affinity for accompaniment in addition to solo and orchestral work, and she adds additional color to a few cuts here. The works on this CD are all transcribed by Nigel Potts for organ and vocalist.
Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell
Friday, August 21, 2015
Today we have a grounding of Basic Bach and then make musical excursions all over the place, with a healthy dose of new Choral Music created (as with most of Bach's music) for religious observation.
Susan Chan, piano
ISBN# 6 81585 12802 2
My delight of the week! Continuing her adventures in juxtaposition of traditional Western composers and composers of the East, in works for solo piano, Susan Chan continues to open up listening windows. Chan's accolades are worldwide, as is her training. As an instructor she has tenure at Washington State Universtiy and currently teaches at Portland State University. She actively promotes the music of female and Asian composers. This "East West" series beautifully demonstrates her love of classics, her ability to allign these traditional works with the works of modern and less known composers, and a larger mission. They underscore her musical technique and understanding, with an educational component that is simultaneously accessible and expansive.
Roger Davidson, composer
Harold Rosenbaum, Cond.
New York Virtuoso Singers
SR (Soundbrush) 1034
ISBN# 8 88295 27646 7
A large number of our listeners love choral music and many are active in choirs, in church and secular choirs - sometimes both! Davidson's new works of "universal sacred music" take traditional forms from many religions and incorporate them into new works that have a timeless sound.
for Acoustic Guitar
Steven Hancoff, guitar
ISBN# 7 00261 42386 9
Gift giver's delight. Hancoff's labor of love in this 3 CD set of the Bach cello works transcribed for guitar shines through in the booklet that comes with the CD that details how he became acquainted with Bach, and then became something of a Bach biographer with a mission to help spread Bach's works to audiences that might not usually know or be aware of his works. For the purist, it can take a sizable adjustment to get the ear used to hearing these works for a bowed instrument played on a plucked instrument with limited sustain. For the (very large) audience who simply loves acoustic guitar, this is a welcome joy (and a great gift idea)!
Discovering Treasure for Solo Flute
Francesca Arnone, flute
ISBN# 6 81585 14572 2
A CD of works for solo flute is simply not for everyone. When these works are all by modern composers, the percentage goes down. So why then does a performer record works like these? Well, for some performers, it is as simple as they like working on modern music, it can be intellectually stimulating and challenge musical routines for the performer. It's a labor of love for the instrument and the exercise of learning new works that may be both musically and melodically challenging, with an eye toward expanding both pedogogy and possibly exposing the audience to works that may, over time, become well known. Francesca Arnone is well placed to do this, having played in the Americas, Asia and Europe, in some of the world's finest concert locations. She also has another concurrent CD of very infectious and melodic works called "Dedications" which we've aired quite a bit since we "opened" it, which is worth looking up, and much more accessible. Koechlin had a varied musical inner life which was in keeping with the arts of his day, sometimes very abstract, sometimes absurd, yet often romantic (melodic). Like Reynaldo Hahn, he was known for creating extensive experimental works, and even here, Arnone recorded only about 1/2 of the movement of this exceedingly rarely performed work. If you adore the flute, and you are musically very adventuresome, this CD will expand your horizons.
The Catalyst Quartet
ISBN# 7 87867 13002 5
The Catalyst Quartet are gaining critical raves and taking risks with their programming. Here, their impressive project of arranging Bach's Goldberg Variations for chamber group is paired with a composition of Glenn Gould, one of the foremost interpreters of the Bach work. Gould's work is rarely played (lovers of linear melody might add, "for good reason"), but is a smart and challenging addition to this arrangment of a beloved work of Bach that resonates on multiple levels.
Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell
The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Public Radio Delmarva, its staff, members, underwriters, Salisbury University, or the Salisbury University Foundation. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. No information on this blog will be understood as official.